This is the first story in a weekly series looking at programs and activities in South Sound classrooms.
LACEY - The library at Meadows Elementary School was filled with puzzles, games and exhibits about fossils, crystals and rocks.
But the crowd favorite was definitely the “Make a Quake” station that captured students’ movements on a digital seismograph.
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Seven-year-old Regan Ridling and several of her friends giggled as they tried to make the ground shake harder after each stomp.
It wasn’t just science and geology: It was like an invisible jumping rope game, too. “It’s fun,” Regan said with a grin.
All 450 or so students at the school were deputized as young geologists when the Pacific Science Center’s traveling exhibit stopped at their school on Thursday and Friday.
The Rock and Roll Science Show is one of six Science on Wheels traveling exhibits that visit schools, fairs and community festivals around the state. The van was slated to make a stop last week at McKenny Elementary School in Olympia, too.
Meadows’ Parent Teacher Student Association paid $3,000 for the program, which included two student assemblies, numerous interactive exhibits in the library and 30 to 40 minutes worth of entertaining and educational science activities for each classroom.
“It’s a big bang for your buck,” said Dawn Gramling, the volunteer coordinator with the PTSA.
Science on Wheels teacher Lauren Bloomenthal said the program began during the gasoline crisis of 1973, when schools couldn’t afford to take field trips to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.
In addition to geology, the Science Center offers traveling exhibits on physiology, math, space, engineering and physics, she said.
Science on Wheels exhibits reach about 200,000 students each year. “It’s basically a field trip that the school doesn’t need transportation for,” Bloomenthal said.
In one of the second-grade classes, Bloomenthal asked students to match rocks with the products they can be used to make. Their choices included a pencil, a kitchen tile, a piece of chalk, a shower scrubber, a magnet, a glow-in-the-dark ceiling star and a tube of toothpaste.
The students felt the rocks, tried to scribble with them on paper, held them up to ultraviolet lights and tried to move them with magnets. They were able to match all the rocks with the products.
At the end of class, 8-year-old Jakob Pilon said he never knew rocks could be so useful.
“They can make some fascinating stuff,” he said.
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 firstname.lastname@example.org